Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer mentioned Thursday that the state will deal with Benton Harbor’s ongoing water disaster with an “all-hands-on-deck, whole-of-government method” in an government directive geared toward offering joint assets from the state. She vowed to “transfer ahead with urgency” for town that has skilled elevated ranges of lead in its ingesting water since 2018.
“Each Michigander deserves protected ingesting water, and each group deserves lead-free pipes,” Whitmer mentioned in a press release Thursday. “We is not going to relaxation till the job is completed and each guardian feels assured to provide their child a glass of water understanding that it’s protected.”
Beneath the directive, bottled water should be offered till additional discover, and residents are required to have entry to free or low-cost providers like ingesting water checks and water filters. The state has additionally set a aim to interchange all of Benton Harbor’s lead service traces inside 18 months.
Benton Harbor households with youngsters underneath the age of 19 or pregnant folks enrolled in Medicaid Well being plans may also quickly be eligible at no cost environmental investigations into lead dangers inside their residence. The state may also present residents with
providers to scale back lead in ingesting water ought to it’s discovered of their houses in the course of the investigation.
“That is what we have been ready for — an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ method to repair the lead contamination disaster in Benton Harbor,” Reverend Edward Pinkney, president of the Benton Harbor Neighborhood Water Council, mentioned Thursday in response to the directive.
In line with the Environmental Safety Company, there isn’t a identified protected stage of lead in a baby’s blood. Unfavorable well being results of ingesting water with a lead presence embrace behavioral points, a decrease IQ, hyperactivity, slowed development, anemia, cardiovascular results, decreased kidney perform and reproductive issues.
Afiled final month by varied environmental and public advocacy organizations mentioned the lead in Benton Harbor’s ingesting water has been a “persistent, widespread, and extreme public well being disaster.” Town has the one water system in Michigan to exceed the EPA’s lead motion stage threshold six consecutive occasions, and it has not had its lead service traces changed in years, violating federal and state necessities, in accordance with the petition.
On October 6, the Michigan Division of Well being and Human Companies advised Benton Harbor residents to depend on bottled water as a substitute of faucet water whereas varied businesses work on decreasing lead ranges in water. The division mentioned bottled water has persistently been made obtainable at varied distribution websites all through town whereas the EPA conducts a examine on water filter effectiveness.
“Standing with the households of Benton Harbor is an environmental justice precedence that we should tackle with urgency,” Michigan’s environmental justice public advocate Regina Robust mentioned Thursday.